The £100,000 revamp of Cannock’s only cinema has been put on hold after thieves broke in and stole all of the workmen’s tools.
Electric Palace Picture House manager Graeme Cotton was today counting the cost of the burglary, in which hundreds of pounds of power tools and other equipment were taken.
The businessman, who has secured a 10-year lease on the popular Walsall Road venue, started the makeover earlier this year.
He is carrying out the work himself.
“It’s very disheartening. We’ve worked our socks off on a meagre budget to improve and modernise the cinema and make it more attractive,” he said.
“But this has put the work back several weeks, we can’t work without tools. It’s very frustrating.”
Mr Cotton said that as well as taking tools and spare parts, the thieves also caused a lot of damage, smashing tiles and breaking in doors.
“It was totally mindless. It means that when we do replace the tools, we will first be repairing damage rather than getting ahead with the refurbishment,” he added.
A pair of £700 speakers belonging to a church group which meets at the venue were also taken in the raid on September 15.
The theft was discovered by Steve Graham, leader of Create Church Cannock, an arm of Rising Brook Baptist Church in Stafford, when he arrived to prepare for a Sunday morning service.
So far, the cinema toilets have been refurbished and work had started on the next phase of the project to install seats, carpets and signs.
The revamp will be the end of an era for traditional reel film and projection in the town, with an £80,000 switchover to digital systems planned.
Under a five-year-plan, a third 100-seater screen could be built on the balcony area in screen one. The previous owners, developers Pritchard, sold the cinema at auction for £175,000 with the new owner yet to be revealed. But the move allowed Mr Cotton, who has run the cinema since 2009, to gain a long lease and safeguard the independent cinema’s future for the next decade.
Previously he had only been granted short leases.